ICTC Meeting Vigan 2012

Cultural Tourism for Community Development / 40 Years of the World Heritage Convention
Vigan, Philippines November 5-10, 2012

The international conference on cultural tourism organized by the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Cultural Tourism (ICTC) will be held at the City of Vigan, Philippines on November 5-10, 2012. The event is organized by ICOMOS Philippines. Vigan is a historic city and World Heritage site located in the northern part of Luzon, Philippines. The city as venue for the conference is most apt as it is an example of a World Heritage site as an emerging tourism destination.

Through this event, expert members of ICTC will establish association with ICOMOS Philippines and representatives from developing countries of Asia and the Pacific to discuss present day issues on tourism and heritage. The topic on the benefits of community participation in conservation and cultural tourism programs as an essential aspect of cultural tourism will become the underlying theme of the conference and annual meeting.

It is envisioned that the event will have a training component where students and participants from the Philippines including ICOMOS Philippines members and participants from developing countries, especially in Asia and the Pacific, will draw inspiration from the different case studies and presentations for adaption to Philippine, Asian and the ICTC members countries’ cultural tourism contexts. Thus, it will be an opportunity for Philippine ICOMOS members, students of Philippine universities, participants from these developing countries as well as ICTC members to learn from the exchanges and experiences shared during the presentations.

Tentative Schedule of Activities

November 5, 2012 (Monday)
  • Arrival in Manila
  • Walking tour of Intramuros
  • Welcome Reception
November 6, 2012 (Tuesday)
  • Flight from Manila-Laoag (1 hour & 30 minutes) with airport transfers to Vigan (2 hours)
  • Option to depart for Vigan on private bus (10 hours)
  • Visits to Paoay and Santa Maria (Baroque Churches of the Philippines / UNESCO World Heritage)
    Opening Reception
November 7-8, 2012 (Wednesday & Thursday)
  • Scientific Symposium – Actual case studies of on-the-ground projects or actual case studies on work of ICTC members with community development as a result of cultural tourism will be presented
  • Community tourism presentations from the Philippine Technical Cooperation Program with Developing Countries – Department of Foreign Affairs program that "assists, plans and implements technical cooperation programs for the least developed of developing countries.”
November 9, 2012 (Friday)
  • Guided visit around the Historic Town of Vigan
  • ICTC 2012 Annual Meeting
  • Workshop with local stakeholders in Vigan
    • Review work done in Vigan as part of the Lijiang Principles Program (1999-2001)
    • UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme
  • Closing Ceremonies
    November 10, 2012 (Saturday)
    • Return to Manila
    • Heritage Conservation Ball (National Museum)
    November 11, 2012 (Sunday)
    • Departure from Manila
    For registration to the conference:
    E-mail: vigan2012@icomosphilippines.com

    Note that only the November 7 and 8 activities in Vigan will be open to the public. We encourage students, faculty, tourism industry stakeholders and policy makers, and the general public to register and join us on the said dates. The rest of the activities are reserved for ICOMOS members and guests.

    For visa requirements to the Philippines, visit the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    Call for Papers

    We invite case studies of actual projects done by ICTC members on the theme while a few case studies of actual situations on tourism in heritage sites are expected to come from Philippine ICOMOS members. The topic of ‘destination management’ as a presently relevant topic and will become one of its important sub-themes.

    As actual case studies and projects are to be presented, it is encouraged that topics focus on the issue of community participation in cultural tourism. The following are the sub-themes that may be considered within the context of community tourism, for the presentations and case studies:

    1. Social and Economic Community development through sustainable cultural tourism
         a. Sustainable Community-based tourism practices
         b. Benefits of community participation in conservation and cultural tourism programs
         c. Can join Economics of Tourism topics here

    2. Values-based tourism
         a. Culture and nature Interpretation for tourism
         b. Information and education development for tourism

    3. Economics of Tourism
         a. Honing cultural industries as tourism by-products
         b. Accommodations and home-stays development for economic development
         c. Communities and stakeholders involvement in tourism activities
         d. Government and/or NGOs initiatives in tourism
         e. Ticketing and tour packaging of heritage sites for tourism

    4. Challenges and concerns of Tourism in Heritage Sites
         a. Tourism in-flux and its effects on heritage sites
         b. Over development and build-up outcomes in heritage sites
         c. Management of tourism destinations

    5. Promotions and Marketing of Heritage for tourism
         a. Experiences and good practices in the marketing of heritage sites
         b. Challenges in marketing and advertisement of hard to sell heritage sites
         c. Enhancing heritage for tourism (facilities development, heritage information enhancement, etc)

    Abstract submission
    Abstract submissions are required for the sessions and individual papers. A one-page abstract that includes a brief outline explaining the content of the presentation is encouraged.

    Deadline for abstracts shall be June 30, 2012
    Selected papers shall be announced through the seminar/workshop website.

    To afford time for printing and incorporation into a seminar/workshop booklet/ brochure, submission of final papers shall be no later than July 31, 2012. This shall include a power point presentation that will cover no more than 20 minutes.

    Abstracts should be sent to:
    Ma. Joycelyn B. Mananghaya
    E-mail: jbmananghaya@yahoo.com

    Vigan – a heritage success story
    by Augusto Villalón

    What has happened in Vigan since inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List has evolved into a heritage success story.

    Vigan shows how heritage, when conserved properly, is a strong driver for economic and social development. While the Heritage Bill (RA 10066) encourages setting up of Heritage Zones, we tend to look at foreign examples for inspiration without realizing that we have a successful Heritage Zone right at our doorstep.

    Vigan is an excellent example of having achieved prosperity through heritage, a transformation done in our own Filipino way.

    The early days of raising heritage awareness in Vigan during the late 1980’s saw most residents and local government against conservation. Some were adamant. They saw conserving heritage as being restrictive, preventing development of their privately owned properties, and a move to freeze Vigan in 19th century darkness.

    Resistance gradually wore down. The Municipal Government prepared the necessary documents and protective legislation required for World Heritage nomination. It must be pointed out that the legislation required by World Heritage is no more stringent than the normal laws needed to protect heritage well.

    Heritage laws were written, thoroughly discussed with the resident community in a series of public consultations, and finally passed.

    Toyota Foundation funded the documentation of Vigan heritage houses by groups of students. The city was mapped and zoned, with the help of a grant from the Spanish government.

    Finally World Heritage inscription happened in 1999. Despite Vigan’s being instantly identified with Spanish colonial heritage, more people took notice of Vigan.

    Although statistics in Vigan are very sketchy, visitor arrivals have increased steadily each year.

    Vigan today has an energy that the pre-World Heritage Vigan didn’t have. Those were the days when the quiet town appeared to be deserted even at noon.

    Darkness in empty Vigan streets was another experience. Empty, unlit ancestral houses loomed on both sides of narrow streets, driving me back to the safety of my hotel room.

    Vigan is vibrant today. Just a look around Vigan will show many new hotels, some still under construction. The construction industry has boomed, reviving the need for traditional skills like carpentry, masonry, and ironwork that had been out of demand for generations.

    Once shuttered heritage houses now have a new life as bed-and-breakfasts, shops, or business establishments, all happening within conserved heritage structures.

    Many restaurants now proudly serve authentic Bigueño cuisine. The empanada vendor and tricycle driver whom I talked to in the Plaza both told me that since World Heritage inscription their businesses had improved.

    They were proud to be part of Vigan and were doing their small bit towards conserving its heritage because they owed their livelihood to it.

    Since World Heritage inscription, Vigan has gone from municipality to city status solely on the merit of its heritage status. Conservation measures undertaken there are on the typical shoestring budget that Philippine government projects normally work with, although there was assistance from the Spanish government and UNESCO.

    The prosperity that conservation has brought to Vigan is obvious to visitors. I was there last month after not having been there for abut 5 years and was surprised at the progress brought about by adapting and enforcing strict conservation measures in the city.

    The level of progress becomes more obvious if Vigan today is compared with Vigan of 10 years ago -- maybe a picture exhibition should be organized to bring out that difference, and documentation of its process needs to be done.

    Check out Vigan. It is a heritage zone that works, and achieved despite all Philippine mindset and budgetary constraints. Bigueños today have a terrific sense of pride of place.

    But more than a photo exhibition to demonstrate Vigan’s progress, an in-depth study is needed to document with statistics the growth of Vigan since it decided to capitalize on its heritage for the future of its people.

    Vigan is the kind of Heritage Zone that the Heritage Bill seeks to set up in specific places of the Philippines. A look at Vigan shows the benefits of setting up a Heritage Zone, and at this time Vigan has not yet reached its full potential of attracting more income-generating opportunities to the local community.

    The World Heritage citation reads, “Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia.”

    There should be an addendum to that citation to say that aside from having “no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia,” Vigan is testimony to the use of heritage for social and economic development. (Published on 25 July 2011, Philippine Daily Inquirer)